We’ve all had Bluetooth connections available for years on our desktop and mobile devices – here’s a quick explanation of Bluetooth technology and what it does for you.
Bluetooth is a wireless communication method that uses radio waves to transmit data over short ranges and uses minimal power (as compared to WiFi). Once paired, Bluetooth enabled devices (for example your iPhone and wireless headphones) use a dynamic connection to communicate with each other using tiny Bluetooth computer chips in each device. These Bluetooth networks (called piconets) are established automatically when the paired devices are within radio wave range.
How far is Bluetooth Range? The range of your Bluetooth connection depends on the type of the Bluetooth chip in each device. In a device where power is plentiful (like a laptop which is a class 1 device) the range is up to 100 meters (though in reality it’s more often 20-30 meters). Smaller Bluetooth devices such as keyboards, headsets and mobile phones are most often class 2, which has a range of up to 10 meters (in real life situations usually 5-10 meters). Bluetooth devices within closer range of each other will communicate with better quality and faster transmission speeds.
What causes Bluetooth Interference? Inability to pair devices or the garbled transmission when connected via Bluetooth could be because you are outside the ideal Bluetooth range (see above) or could be explained by interference with other devices. Microwave transmitters, baby monitors, and cordless phones all operate on the same bandwidth as Bluetooth connections. Additionally, poorly shielded satellite TV cables or other cables connecting peripherals may be causing interference. Turn off peripherals connected to your computer if you are experiencing issues with a Bluetooth mouse or keyboard. If this corrects the problem, try replacing the cable that connects the device to your computer. Poor shielding on satellite TV cables may cause RF leakage, and may require the your replace damaged cables. More here on troubleshooting Bluetooth issues on your Apple devices.
What can you do with Bluetooth?
- Connect a wireless keyboard or mouse (keyboard can even be connected to a smartphone or tablet)
- Connect wireless headphones or speakers
- Tether your phone to your computer to create a mobile hotspot
- Share files via AirDrop